U.S. Treasury Sanctions Associate of Israeli Billionaire Gertler
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Congolese businessman Alain Mukonda for giving support to sanctioned Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler.
The Treasury also blacklisted 12 entities in Democratic Republic of Congo and Gibraltar linked to Mukonda, it said in a statement on its website Monday.
“Treasury is committed to supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s anti-corruption efforts by going after those that abuse the political system for economic gain and unfairly profit from the Congolese state,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in the statement. “We stand with the Congolese people in their efforts to combat this scourge.”
Gertler was sanctioned in December 2017 by the U.S. government, which said he used his close links to former Congolese President Joseph Kabila to amass a fortune “through hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals.”
Gertler declined to comment on Monday through a spokesman. He has previously denied any wrongdoing and has never been charged with a crime.
In the months before he was sanctioned, Gertler reincorporated and relocated several of his companies to Congo from offshore jurisdictions, including a holding company called Gerco SAS, whose owners were his wife and nine family members, Bloomberg News reported last year along with anti-corruption groups Global Witness and the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, or Pplaaf. That company, now known as Ashdale Settlement Gerco SAS and represented by Mukonda, according to the Treasury, was sanctioned Monday by the U.S.
After the 2017 sanctions, Gertler appeared to create a complex structure to move money out of Congo, with more than a dozen shell companies, subsidiaries, and foreign and local intermediaries, Global Witness and Pplaaf detailed in a report last year. Their work was based in part on leaked bank documents that Pplaaf shared with three media outlets including Bloomberg.
“Extremely brave Congolese whistleblowers had revealed to civil society organizations and the media the active role played by Mr Mukonda and his companies in supporting Mr. Gertler to bypass U.S. sanctions,” Henri Thulliez, Pplaaf’s director said in an email Monday. The two whistleblowers, Gradi Koko Lobanga and Navy Malela Mawani, have been sentenced to death in Congo and are living in exile.
Gertler continues to deny the findings of the Pplaaf and Global Witness report, his spokesman said.
The new sanctions demonstrated an “effort to coordinate with civil society partners to impose significant consequences on those engaged in corruption in the DRC and globally,” the U.S. Treasury said in its statement.
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